WHO AM I? / CERT: PG (AUS) / DIRECTOR: BENNY CHAN, JACKIE CHAN / SCREENPLAY: JACKIE CHAN, SUSAN CHAN / STARRING: JACKIE CHAN, MICHELLE FERRE, MIRAI YAMAMOTO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (AUS)
1998’s Who am I? holds an interesting place in Jackie Chan’s filmography. It ends a trilogy of international films which he made before finally dangling from the Hollywood sign itself in Rush Hour, to signal that he had finally arrived in America at the age of 44. Like First Strike and Mr Nice Guy before it, Who Am I? is shot in English, in various exotic non-Asian locations and features questionable acting and plots that don’t always make sense. Of course, we are really here for the action and, as always, Chan delivers a varied assault on the senses that is hard to argue with.
Chan plays a CIA operative who, along with a hilariously varied international team, is tasked with kidnapping a group of scientists working on a powerful energy source in the South African jungle. However, the team are double crossed and, in the struggle, Jackie supposedly falls to his death, only to be rescued by a tribe who call him Who am I, after he discovers he has amnesia. Who Am I must find a way back to civilisation and take down the corrupt CIA agent who left him for dead in the first place.
From South Africa to Rotterdam, we get some lovely pieces of parkour, a grand car chase, some fun with clogs and finally an obligatory big stunt as Jackie slides down the front of a conveniently-designed building that he was just having a tussle on. This is probably the final Chan film to feature all the classic elements that had become his trademark over the years, so it has to be applauded for that, as does Chan who once again puts his body on the line for our entertainment.
You just have to forgive the plot, as Who Am I never finds out who he is, even though surely the CIA agent sent to help him could have easily done the research herself instead of delivering the throwaway line at the end of the film; “We are sending through the information on your identity.” It is not helped by the US version of the movie, which is all we get on a very lazy Blu-ray transfer, with the only extra being a Theatrical Trailer. The Hong Kong version contains a few extra scenes featuring Who Am I learning the tribe’s language before becoming a fully-fledged member, and it also only shows that Jackie and his men were double crossed in a flashback later on, leaving it as a surprising reveal.
Despite this, the film's strength is in its ending, with Who Am I facing a Chinese boxer and a Dutch super kicker in a fight that contains so many elements and is so well choreographed that it is truly unique. The techniques come so thick and fast, with minimal cutting, you can forgive some obvious doubling for the villains. As the credits roll, we're treated to Jackie’s obligatory out-takes and are reminded that we have had a lot of fun. This may not be Chan’s best, but it’s the last time he delivered such variety in one movie.